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Friday, June 29, 2018

Comic Cuts - 29 June 2018

I glanced down and glanced up again just now and somehow it's the end of June. How can we be half-way through the year already? It's now officially summer, and we have a couple of tomato plants that are starting to show signs of growth. We have another cucumber plant which will hopefully do as well as, if not better than, last year.

The lack of rain is worrying as we have a couple of near-empty water butts. When the roof was done, the guy doing it fixed the guttering and put in a small connector from the down-pipe to the larger of the two water butts. However, when I came to check them a couple of weeks ago, they were empty. The water wasn't flowing through the connector pipe.

The solution was to block the down-pipe and let the water-butt fill, cleaning out the pipe regularly of any mud and twigs that are washed off the roof and into the gutter and into the pipe. It has worked OK. Not perfect, but we filled most of one water-butt. The second, which is connected and sits lower than the first, hasn't filled – I had to do that manually using the watering can.

A week without rain has all but (or should that be butt?) left us high and dry and there's no sign of any break in the hot weather. The report this morning said that we shouldn't expect any rain at all for at least a week.

Meanwhile, in the rest of my life unconnected with water butts, we had a massively frustrating Sunday thanks to out internet connection crashing every 15 minutes. I think they're upgrading the system somehow (according to a guy in a high-vis jacket who was fiddling with the wiring at the telephone exchange cabinet down the road), although it's unlikely that the bit of wet string that delivers calls over the last twenty feet between telephone pole and the house will be replaced.

We also rewatched Twister over the weekend. Following a passing mention on Friday of how good the soundtrack was, I stumbled across a BluRay copy of the movie in town for £1. What a great film! I love it. You might be able to predict every turn the film will take from its opening scene, but it's still a ride worth taking; the characters are walking, talking cliches but, what the hell, they're a cheerful bunch that you wouldn't mind sharing a side of cow with. Even the effects hold up... not bad for a film that was on the cutting edge over twenty years ago.

They've never equaled it, even if the effects have grown bigger over the years. Into the Storm was a rip-off and Geostorm... well, that was just terrible! That only leaves Sharknado and I'd say Twister still wins on the merits of its special effects.

We finished Salamandar, the Belgian thriller that was on BBC4. There was not one sympathetic character in the whole thing, which  is not to say that it wasn't good (it was) but it might explain why we so enjoyed the sight of people having a good time in our movie choice this weekend. We've just started The Bridge... oh, boy... that's going to be a barrel of laughs. And we're still watching Westworld, which isn't what I'd call easy-going. Thankfully there's still Taskmaster and the return of The Last Leg, so you need not worry about putting us on suicide watch.

I heard mention of a programme about the New York Times called The Fourth Estate, which for us dumbass Brits has been retitled Reporting on Trump's First Year. It's a little more nuanced than that, but it does pretty much what it says on the tin, because Trump has been impossible to avoid since he announced he was standing way, way back in June 2015. I have to say I found it fascinating, to see how hard the staff worked to make sure that they were getting to the facts and trying not to let the accusations of "fake news" demoralize them. You can still catch the first episode on the iPlayer if you're in the UK.

I love a good newsroom movie, too, and there has been a couple of very good ones recently. Spotlight (2015) is based around the Boston Globe's "Spotlight" team and how they broke the news of widespread sexual abuse of children by priests, and The Post (2017) showed how persistence paid off for Washington Post journalists who wanted to publish what became known as the Pentagon Papers, classified documents about the Vietnam War. This is what led eventually to the events depicted in that classic of the newsroom genre, All the President's Men (1976) – the Watergate Scandal.

But my favourite newsroom movie is still The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961), filmed in the offices of the Daily Express back in the days it was a newspaper and even featuring its former editor Arthur Christiansen. It has a compelling plot, a cast of interesting characters played by excellent actors and is pretty much everything in a good movie that today's blockbusters fail to achieve.

Which neatly brings us to today's random scans...

1 comment:

  1. One of my favourite films, The Day The Earth Caught Fire. It was just the start of Arthur Christiansen's acting career; he went on to appear in a whole one more film, 80,000 Suspects.
    directed, like The Day The Earth Caught Fire, by Val Guest, he really stretched his range by playing a newspaper editor, this time of the Bath Evening Chronicle.

    Seriously, I thought he was very good in both films, and 80,000 Suspects is a tight little plague-on-the-loose thriller well worth watching. Sadly, Christiansen died the same year, at far too young an age.